Why Are More Americans Dealing with Anxiety than Before?
Americans have a lot to worry about such as gun control, the economy, healthcare and so much more. Even though we have a lot to deal with, there are more and more Americans dealing with anxiety than before.
Many people who have depression are also anxious, to the point of panic. Though we don’t always put the two together, it’s more common than you may think. We often think of depression as being down, having “the blues”, or unable to enjoy life.
But, those who suffer from depression can often also have significant episodes of anxiety. And, doctors tell us the two go hand in hand and that more and more of us are victim to it.
It seems Americans, in general, are prone to anxiety at a higher percentage than ever before. And, there are many theories on why. For example, many experience isolation as a result of social media and technology.
Some clinicians believe this isolation does not allow us to have productive, personal relationships. And, as human animals, we need this. Of course, this is one theory.
There are many reasons Americans dealing with anxiety increases each year. Here are a few of the key problems.
Many People Never Seek Treatment
Estimates are that 40% of the U.S. population suffers from some anxiety. Whether it is the general anxiety or social anxiety disorder, symptoms begin as early as 13 years old. Often parents do not seek treatment as children do not always have the ability to describe symptoms to their parents. And, parents may believe any outward signs of stress is something “they’ll grow out of”.
As they become adults, some think anxiety is a disorder with which they must live. Indeed, less than half of adults with anxiety disorders seek help at all.
Along the way, many experience dependence on alcohol or drugs to ease the symptoms.
Symptoms Can Get Worse
Then, adults begin to follow social norms such as career, marriage, and family. And, symptoms of anxiety can grow worse.
There is more to worry about, and those with an anxiety disorder can go into “symptom overdrive”. Americans report most of their anxiety is about family and finances – something most of us deal with on a daily basis.
Many say their fear often reaches the levels of real panic, including panic attacks.
Though helpful at the time, treating symptoms does not work long-term.
The Cycle of Illness and Anxiety
For those who do not seek treatment, they may have very little knowledge of what’s wrong with them. But, they know something is not right.
The lack of knowledge can enable a cycle of anxiety which includes physical symptoms. A stomach ache can trigger thoughts that something terrible is going to happen.
Those with anxiety report they do not sleep well and feel tense most of the time. Lack of sleep only adds to fatigue and more anxiety. Then, real problems can start.
Digestive tract problems, high blood pressure, and irregular heart function often follow anxiety.
Without the right diagnosis, sufferers are on a road of dealing with physical effects of it. And, never deal with the underlying problem.
Society’s Complications Are Not Easy for Anyone
As Americans, we apply our self-worth to our accomplishments. How we fare in sports, school, and our career is how we measure others, too.
We love a winner. So, when things do not go right, we tend to blame ourselves. For those with an anxiety disorder, this takes on a whole different dimension.
The constant worry of not measuring up to other’s or their view of what success looks like never waivers. Those with an anxiety disorder, in most cases, have a family history of it. Or, their environment is rife with abuse or trauma. So, those with anxiety may have both the genetic makeup and the life experience that predisposes them to both depression and anxiety.
Of course, learning that they worthy of acceptance no matter their success is vital. And, it takes both work and time.
Americans Work More, Play Less
It is no secret that American workers put in more time than any other culture. The slow demise of unions and change in the country’s finances are a few reasons why.
More and more, workers feel that they could lose their job at any time, so they work more. More than 80% of American workers are at the grind over 40 hours per week.
And, they take less time off. Of course, this causes more stress for both the person and their family.
Stress contributes much to health problems. Those who do not “unplug”, enjoy hobbies or time with their families are candidates for more issues.
Stress-induced high blood pressure is a marker for cardiac problems. For those with anxiety, a demanding work life with no breaks can cause extreme symptoms.
Treating the Symptoms of Americans Dealing with Anxiety
There is a spectrum of anxiety disorders. But, the reporting of symptoms runs across all levels. They include:
- Panic, Fear including panic attacks
- Problems Sleeping
- Unable to stay still or calm
- Cold, sweaty hands
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Dry mouth
- Tense muscles
- Gastrointestinal problems
The severity of these symptoms can vary. In extreme cases, an ER visit occurs as severe anxiety can mirror a heart attack. And, high blood pressure with shortness of breath signals cardiovascular troubles.
For those who seek help from a physician will often receive treatment for the symptoms alone. Medications such as antidepressants and benzodiazepines (i.e.: Xanax) are usually on the menu.
Though this offers relief, this treatment is not for long-term use. So, many sufferers end up dealing with their symptoms throughout their life.
Why Treatment is Important
It is important to know that some stress is normal. And learning to deal with stress in healthy ways is critical. But, for those dealing with anxiety that is interfering with normal function and taking away a fulfilling life, it is important to seek treatment.
We are here to help. Contact us with questions here.